New law would combat abuse of disability placards
By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service
March 28, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - In an effort to combat abuse of
parking placards intended for disabled drivers, San Francisco
city officials have introduced new legislation that aims to crack
down on people who are not entitled to the free parking passes.
The new law would establish a review board to examine the medical
justification for specific disabled placards and look at patterns
of placard issuance. It would also increase the fines for parking
illegally in disabled zones from $250 to $350, the mayor's office
The fine for misuse of placards would continue to be set at $500.
"The abuse of disabled placards is out of control. People
who abuse disabled placards are essentially stealing from the
city and preventing the legitimate use of placards by people with
disabilities," Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement.
According to the mayor's office, since October 2006, the San
Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has cited 380 people
for misuse of a disabled placard.
Close to 50,000 placards have been issued in San Francisco by
the California DMV. Under state law, the placards allow drivers
to park at meters for free without time limits, according to the
"The disability community fully supports a crackdown on
placard abuse," Susan Mizner, director of the Mayor's Office
on Disability, said in a statement. However, Mizner added, "The
public should also know that many people have hidden disabilities
and it is not always possible to know from observation whether
someone is abusing a placard or not."
According to information on the Department of Motor Vehicles'
Web site, eligible disabilities can include such conditions as
visual impairment, heart or circulatory disorders or lung disease.
"We know of no other jurisdiction in California that is
trying this innovative approach," San Francisco Mayor Gavin
Newsom said in a statement. "Once again, San Francisco is
taking the lead in addressing a statewide problem."
"The review panel will give us a new tool to take a closer
look at the mushrooming number of disabled placards in San Francisco,"
SFMTA executive director Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. stated.
The SFMTA maintains a tip line at (415) 554-9818 for the public
to report potential abuse of disabled placards.
Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.